By CONNOR RYAN
Fighting widespread and perpetual conceptions of inactivity among the student body, Rose Hill’s United Student Government (USG) has compacted a semester’s worth of accomplishment into its annual midyear report that is scheduled to be distributed to high-level administrators Friday afternoon.
The 11-page report [READ HERE] — signed by Aileen Reynolds, FCRH ’14, USG’s executive president, and Brendan Francolini, GSB ’14, executive vice president — expectedly touts the successful increase of the student activities fee, as well as the creation of the Coalition for Change and several smaller efforts aimed at promoting the quality of life on campus.
“We are honored to share the wide range of initiatives USG has tackled this semester with you,” Reynolds and Francolini write in the beginning of the report. “While there is still a number of initiatives being pursued, we are very proud of the work done thus far.”
Though it would seem few beyond Rose Hill’s 31-member student government share their pride.
Students spoke to The Fordham Ram about their perceptions of USG under the condition of anonymity.
“I’m sure they do something, and I know they work hard because I have friends on it,” one junior said. “But I just have never noticed anything big that they’ve accomplished. [Campus Activities Board] does the Spring Weekend concert, [Residence Hall Association] does Under the Tent, but I don’t really know what USG does.”
“They do not have a discernible affect on the student body,” a sophomore said. “Their main purpose seems to be limiting student clubs.”
Another junior called on USG to be more open about its activities, so students might have a better understanding about what gets accomplished during meetings.
“USG operations could be more transparent,” the student said. “I always hear USG members say that they are doing stuff, but I don’t see it or understand how it impacts me.”
When asked to respond to the charge that USG falls short of impacting meaningful change for students, Reynolds conceded that communication between student government and the campus community could be bolstered. But then challenged students to gather facts before complaining.
“I think students who [feel USG accomplishes little] have not sought out information on USG’s work,” she said. “This report alone exemplifies the hard work USG has put into our community just over the course of a few months.
The report is highly detailed about what actions USG took this semester, as well as how student leaders went about taking those actions. Several documents of technical record are included in the back of the package for reference.
At the front of the report is information about how the student activities fee increase was officially approved in December after a small group of students spent several months persuading club leaders to support the effort, collecting signatures from — and then polling — students and finally pitching the concept to administrators. The measure will boost each student’s activities fee by $15 per semester from $120 to $135. The extra earnings will provide clubs with $60,000 more in funding every semester, according to USG.
The Coalition for Change was started in October after weekend security alerts became alarmingly routine and the term “apple picking” poked its way into dinner conversations. In truth, USG collaborated with many different campus organizations to form the coalition and plot events, which amounted to two around Halloween. Student government did not initiate the charge.
Senator Anisah Assim, FCRH ’16, has led an effort to raise the profile of sustainability on campus, according to the report, by installing plastic bag recycling bins around Rose Hill and swapping the Styrofoam take-out containers at Panda Express for compostable ones. Assim also launched the Sustainability Subcommittee, which hopes to gather students and encourage everyone on campus to recycle more, the report says.
Senator Harrison Pidgeon, FCRH ’15, worked to mend the break stay policy so that underclassmen may easily get assistance from housing administrators about finding appropriate on-campus living spaces during vacations. Vice President of Fordham College Emily Horihan, FCRH ’14, worked with Dean Michael Latham on formatting how future school research will look on Forhdam’s website redesign.
Vice President of Gabelli Nevin Kulangara, GSB ’15, has worked to establish “Fordham Student Holdings,” which “would serve as an umbrella organization for student-run business, providing them with the resources and guidance they need to flourish,” the report says.
Peer Educators, Mimes & Mummers and Fordham Fanatics were awarded with Club of Month prizes this fall. Winners are determined after USG representatives nominate and then vote on clubs they feel are deserving. The criteria for the reward remains hidden and seemingly subjective to personal preferences.
USG spent $7,559 of its $8,000 semester budget — $6,589 went toward the organization’s own expenses (i.e. the Club Fair, the Club Leader Social and ClubLib), while $970 were given away to other clubs. UNICEF got most of USG’s funds with $220, while Flash magazine followed closely behind with $200.
Katie Meyer and Joe Vitale contributed reporting.